A Visual Culture Demands a Visual Gospel

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As you think about young people on college campuses today, what is the first image that comes to mind?  For me, it’s a sea of students streaming down the sidewalk, smartphones in hand.  Their attention is constantly drawn to one thing: a screen.

Now, on the one hand, we could bemoan this trend.  We could throw our hands up in defeat.  No one knows how to read these days, we could think.  What will come of society?  What will come of the church?  Of the Bible?

On the other hand, we could think like missionaries.  We could do what carriers of Jesus’ message have always done: adjust.  We can contextualize the message of Jesus to fit the needs and communication styles of our audience.

This is why my new role with InterVarsity gets me incredibly excited. Instead of shying away from the challenges on campus today, it harnesses the best technologies and platforms we have to articulate the message of Jesus in fresh, accessible ways.

My job title is Communications & Operations Manager.  The purpose of my role, and the whole Communications & Marketing department, is to amplify InterVarsity’s work on campus through visual, digital mediums.  

The team produces promotional videos, designs ministry training tools (such as this video course on inductive Bible study), handles social media and web platforms for the ministry, and creates interactive exhibits that help students on campus share the good news of Jesus with their nonreligious peers.  

When I was a College Pastor near the University of Northern Iowa, I remember seeing InterVarsity setting up a Martin Luther King exhibit shortly after the winter holiday.  At the time, I thought, “This is brilliant!”  What better way to engage college students in a dialogue about Jesus than through a visual presentation of a topic they already care about?!  In this case, the topic was civil rights, racism, and social justice.  The exhibits (all guided by InterVarsity student leaders) walked curious students through a series of conversations which culminated in presenting Jesus as the solution to the brokenness of our world.  This is just one example of how our department works to present a visual gospel to a visual culture.   

The Communications team also builds the “brand presence” of InterVarsity in the US, which means we help to spread knowledge of InterVarsity into every corner of the country, so that parents, graduating high schoolers, professors, and pastors can be aware of InterVarsity’s existence and confidently recommend it as a ministry worth checking out.

When I think about the mediums that have most moved me on a purely emotional level, video is right up there toward the top.  If you’d like to have your heart warmed to God’s work around the world, take a moment to check out one of these InterVarsity videos:

The Story of God in Culture & Song: Tecate, Mexico

Endiro Coffee: True Partnership, True Transformation

Dehumanization & God’s Grace

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